Infertility and mental health

It was World Mental Health Day earlier this week and as I studied the various articles appearing in the media, I found my mind going over and over the impact that infertility has had on me mentally over the years. Would I say I had a mental health “problem”? I guess it depends how you define that particular word. It doesn’t feel like a very kind word in many ways and it suggests to me that a ‘problem’ should be clearly defined. But has infertility impacted me mentally over the years? Yes, absolutely.

I felt I had to address this on social media this week; to be another voice illustrating the many ways in which our circumstances affect our mental health. I’ve shared my post here as a marker that mental health and infertility do very much go hand-in-hand and that there should be no shame in admitting the personal toll it takes on us. At the bottom of the page are some links to useful websites for anyone who may wish to access further support.

“I’ve been reflecting a lot over the last 24 hours on World Mental Health Day. I didn’t realise how much our struggle to start a family and all that we had been through medically and emotionally had impacted me mentally until I got ill and had to be signed off work this time last year in order to say yes to external support and begin the process of being pieced back together. Over the years I’ve realised that infertility and miscarriage strike at the very heart of our identity – as humans, as women, as people of faith, as members of society. It is brutal and can leave one feeling totally lost, isolated, inconsolable, depressed and hopeless. If you are going through infertility and wondering how to keep going, please don’t suffer in silence – the bravest thing you can do is to tell someone that you’re hurting. And if you know someone going through infertility – please don’t leave them to go through it by themselves. Chances are they won’t be quick to tell you that on the inside they’re curled up in a ball and are simply pretending to be fine. Living it out demands a brave face every single day. And undoubtedly the daily brave face takes its toll (as I found to my own cost). Struggling with mental health affects us all in one way or another. I’m so grateful that we are beginning to talk more about infertility and more about how we look after ourselves and each other as we explore ways to better wellbeing and good mental health as a society”.

Some useful websites which offer support:

Mental Health Foundation – https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/

Counselling services – www.nhs.uk/conditions/counselling or www.counselling-directory.org.uk

Infertility Counselling Service – https://www.bica.net/about-us

The Miscarriage Association – www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk

Baby Loss Awareness – www.babyloss-awareness.org

Samaritans – https://www.samaritans.org/

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